After competing in Oaklawn’s first two Kentucky Derby points races, Gray Attempt and Six Shooter return to sprinting in Saturday’s $125,000 Gazebo Stakes at 6 furlongs.
Probable post time for the Gazebo, the ninth of 10 races, is 5:09 p.m. (Central). Doors open Saturday at 11 a.m., with first post 1:05 p.m. The infield will be open for the second time this season and will feature BBQ style food trucks and live music from the Brent Frazier Band.
Gray Attempt, in his two-turn debut, was a front-running winner of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25 for owner Dwight Pruett of Texarkana, Ark., and trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs. Gray Attempt then tried to stretch his speed 1 1/16 miles in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 18 but finished 11th after being banged around going into the first turn.
“He went into the race perfect,” Fires said. “He didn’t come out of it perfect.”
Fires said Gray Attempt emerged from Southwest with a hind-end problem – “no doubt” related to being bumped early in the race – and missed an opportunity to run in last Saturday’s split $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13.
“He’s back doing good,” Fires said of the 8-5 Gazebo program favorite. “We’ll have to see what happens. We did miss some training with him and did some work on him. We had to ice him, whirlpool, epsom salt – we did it all.”
The projected Gazebo field from the rail out: Keesawah, Richard Eramia to ride, 117 pounds, 15-1 on the morning line; Nitrous, Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 5-2; Hidden Ruler, David Cohen, 117, 8-1; Oncewewerebrothers, Tyler Baze, 119, 5-2; Gray Attempt, Jon Court, 122, 8-5; and Six Shooter, Stewart Elliott, 122, 6-1.
Six Shooter finished fourth in the Smarty Jones and Southwest for co-owner/trainer Paul Holthus of Hot Springs, who passed the Rebel to return the gelding to sprint races.
“The horse is doing real good,” Holthus said. “He’s enjoyed his freshening. Look forward to him running a big race.”
Six Shooter has raced twice at 6 furlongs, finishing third in his Sept. 20 career debut at Churchill Downs and breaking his maiden by 6 ¾ lengths Oct. 17 at Indiana Grand.
“I think he’ll run three-quarters,” Holthus said. “I think he’ll lay as close as you need him to lay. He’s a pretty versatile little horse. He’ll lay close, come from behind, do whatever you need him to do.”
Nitrous cuts back to a sprint after winning the $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity Jan. 27 at Sunland Park for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen saddled his dam, Speedinthruthecity, to win the $100,000 Carousel Stakes in 2014 at Oaklawn.
Oncewewerebrothers makes his stakes debut after winning two races at the meet for trainer Jimmy DiVito.